What are our rights against a dog breeder if our dog had a medical condition caused by a congenital defect?

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What are our rights against a dog breeder if our dog had a medical condition caused by a congenital defect?

We bought a dog from a breeder about 7 months ago and it has developed a “cherry eye” and needs surgery to fix it. Our vet has written a letter that says “the dog has been found to have a congenital defect that caused ‘cherry eye’ which requires surgery to be corrected”. Would we be able to win if we take the breeder to small claims court ? From what we learned about state law on the issue, she is responsible for the situation. We provided her with the information and documents same day the vet confirmed the congenital defect.

Asked on February 25, 2012 under General Practice, Florida

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If she was aware of the defect (i.e., the dog had shown signs from birth or the mother had it or other siblings from same litter had it) then you would be quite successful in getting the cost of the dog but keep in mind that most courts would either require you return the dog or have her pay for the vet bills. As for any other way she would know (i.e., no prominent signs), you would need to find a way to show the court she knew even if there were no outward signs. Further, your contract you had with her when purchasing the dog would be beneficial here. Read every provision and see if this issue or a similar issue of finding a medical problem post-purchase is addressed in the contract. If it is not, then neither party had a meeting on the mind on that issue and it really would be strictly up to state law and case law regarding it.


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